Thursday, December 18, 2014

And then the Government got involved...

My previous blog involved my running theory about Santa and the Wright Brothers--backed up of course by a sketch, and other evidence to further substantiate my claims, that perhaps Santa taught Orville and Wilbur how to fly.  It was a wonderful moment in it's simplicity and purity as the Wright's allowed Santa to take the Flyer for a spin.



I received this, and it's painfully clear that the FAA has been looking into the unlicensed jolly old man from the North Pole--and this is what happened.  Sorry Santa.  

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Who taught Orville Wright to fly?

It's the age old question, which came first, the airplane or the pilot?

According to history, the airplane came first, because Wilbur and Orville Wright studied the science and built one--and promptly kept crashing the thing.  Was their machine flawed?  Or was it the lack of flying lessons?

I can promise that if anyone today was allowed to take the Wright Flyer out for a spin around the patch--they'd crash.  No doubt in my mind whatsoever that time after time, without an expertly trained pilot, the Flyer would wind up in an unrecognizable ball of tubing and canvas.  It's not an easy machine to fly.

My personal theory, is there was someone, a benevolent instructor.  The only high-time aviator in the world came forward, and taught the Wrights to fly.  This generous endeavor only worked because Kitty Hawk, back in 1903, was out in the middle of nowhere. This instructor typically remained unseen while working, and he wanted no share of the glory he knew was about to come--it was an early Christmas gift to Orville and Wilbur.

On December 17th, 1903, the instructor watched Orville make that fateful solo flight. His only request was that he wanted to demo the Flyer just once before he departed.  The Wright's happily obliged, and although there are no photographs of that particular event, there was one sketch artist who later chronicled the event.

Thanks to that instructor, in todays world, we fly airplanes using two lists.  We call them normal checklists, and abnormal checklists, aviation terms for good and bad.  The instructor had taught Orville and Wilbur all about the importance of lists.

When we see another airplane in flight, we call out: "Tally Ho!"  This evolved from the original Ho Ho Ho!

And finally, in todays world, we always put at least one shiny red light on our airplanes.  We all know why.

---Thanks Santa

Friday, December 5, 2014

Deadly Echoes--USA book award finalist!

PRWEB.COM Newswire

Longboat Key, Florida (PRWEB) December 03, 2014

Oceanview Publishing proudly congratulates authors Philip Donlay, David Putnam, and Jennifer Mortimer as finalists in the 2014 USA Best Book Awards.

DEADLY ECHOES by Philip Donlay (ISBN 978-1-60809-109-6) the fourth Donovan Nash thriller, was released on April 1, 2014, and takes on ecological disasters and terrorism. Donlay follows up DEADLY ECHOES with AFTERSHOCK (ISBN 978-1-60809-139-3), scheduled for release March 3, 2015

A brief synopsis of Deadly Echoes follows...
Donovan Nash is a man under siege, and this time it's personal. Eco-Watch, the premier scientific research organization he founded, is being blamed for a series of violent ecological atrocities that ignite protests around the world.
Behind the attacks is Garrick Pearce, a man from Donovan's past, who is bent on a ruthless vendetta. Garrick has promised that after he annihilates Eco-Watch, he'll murder everyone close to Nash. Recoiling from the damage, Donovan enlists the help of Erica, a woman who claims she has information Donovan needs, but her knowledge makes her a marked woman.
Running from trained killers, the FBI and even his own organization, Donovan races from southern California to British Columbia, then finally to Alaska where he joins Eco-Watch personnel and desperately tries to stop what promises to be the worst eco-atrocity in history. With his world in tatters and everything he built seemingly destroyed, Donovan is forced to take one last desperate gamble to stop Garrick and silence the man forever--a roll of the dice that may very well cost Nash his life.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Airliners, ferry boats and aircraft carriers!

Hello all, it's been a very crazy four weeks and I apologize for the delay in posting--but I've been busy.

I departed Montana in early October on a mission:  Get to Minneapolis to talk with doctors about my poor knee.  The consensus is that there isn't much cartilage remaining, so if the pain persists and another surgical procedure is considered, it will probably be a total knee replacement.  They injected me with cortisone and sent me limping on my way.  So far so good...

After Minneapolis, I journeyed westward and spent time writing in British Columbia, as well as visiting my favorite haunts in Victoria, and Ucluelet--(it's an amazing place, along with it's sister city, Tofino).

Last weekend found me in San Diego at the veteran's book fair aboard the aircraft carrier USS Midway.  There were at least 35 authors in attendance and many many books are now on their way to veterans around the world. I had a wonderful time visiting with readers, as well as friends, both old and new.

 I left sunny SoCal, traveled north, and I'm now on Vancouver Island.  I have three weeks set aside to completely focus on applying the finishing touches to Donovan Nash thriller number six, and of course, we're a little more than ninety-days from the launch of Aftershock.  Like I said, there's a lot going on in my world.

Enjoy the pictures.



Sunday, October 5, 2014

A touching story on so many levels.

When I'm writing, I try and create characters who are both brave and selfless, but even in the world of fiction, I can't come close to this woman.   I read about her years ago, and from time to time, I still think about her, and when I do, I'm always touched and humbled by her acts of bravery and her sense of duty.    

8 April 1968: British Overseas Airways Corporation Flight 712, call sign Speedbird 712, a Boeing 707-465 Intercontinental, registered G-ARWE, departed London Heathrow for Sydney, Australia, with 116 passengers and 11 crew. Approximately 20 seconds after takeoff, there was a loud bang and severe shudder as the Number Two jet engine failed catastrophically. The flight crew started through emergency procedures while calling MAYDAY and turning back toward the airport. The failed engine fell off the left wing which then caught fire as fuel continued to flow. Three minutes, thirty-two seconds after takeoff, Speedbird 712 touched down on Runway 05 and rapidly came to a stop. Fuel continued to burn, and the airliner’s cabin crew began evacuating passengers.
This photograph shows Speedbird 712 over Thorpe, Surrey. The Number two Engine is circled at the lower right.
This photograph shows Speedbird 712 over Thorpe, Surrey. The Number Two Engine is circled at the lower right.
Cabin Attendant Barbara Jane Harrison was among the crew members who helped passengers escape from the burning Boeing 707. The exit slide had not deployed correctly and Miss Harrison was encouraging passengers to jump to the runway surface, and in some cases, even pushed them out. She was seen standing in a doorway as the flames and smoke spread, and people below, including the airplane’s captain, shouted at her to jump. Instead, she turned away and went back inside, presumably to help a disabled passenger in a wheelchair. She gave her life to help others. Later, the bodies of Miss Harrison and the disabled passenger were found together in the burned out wreck. Four other passengers also died.

For her gallantry in saving the lives of others at the cost of her own, Queen Elizabeth II awarded the George Cross, for “acts of the greatest heroism or of the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme danger.”

Barbara Jane Harrison was 23 years old.

Monday, September 22, 2014

AFTERSHOCK-----A Donovan Nash Thriller


Aftershock by Philip Donlay on March 3, 2015

Earthquakes, poisonous gas, lava flows—Donovan Nash flies headlong into a volcanic nightmare
The flames of Donovan Nash’s worst nightmare are fanned to life when Stephanie VanGelder, one of those closest to him, is kid-napped in the volcanic powder keg of a lawless Guatemala. With help from his inner circle, including his estranged wife, Dr. Lauren McKenna, Nash races headlong into a world of corruption and deception. Battling the kidnappers, as well as the deadly gas and lava from the impending eruption of a volcano, Donovan only has one chance to save Stephanie.
Amid earthquakes, volcanic ash, and lava, the rescue goes horribly wrong, and Donovan is forced to find a way for everyone, including a mysterious woman who holds the secrets to his past, to escape one of the most powerful forces on earth. Aftershock is the story of Donovan Nash, a man battling his torturous past, while struggling to survive along with the most important people in his life. In the face of impending death, Donovan must find the courage to face a shocking truth he’s sought for decades—a truth that will change him forever.

Philip Donlay learned to fly at age seventeen and was first published at eighteen. In the aviation world, success came quickly and he's been flying jets since he was twenty years old. Flying a Saudi sheik, nighttime freight, and executives of a Fortune 500 company, Donlay has logged over six million miles spanning the globe to forty countries on five continents. Donlay burst onto the literary scene in 2004 with the publication of his first novel, Code Black, followed by Category Five, Zero Separation, Deadly Echoes and Aftershock.

Phil divides his time between Montana and the Pacific Northwest.

Praise for the Donovan Nash Series…
"A heart-thumping ride that steams along, bringing our flawed world into pristine focus. Lots of mischief and mayhem, the characters fraught with danger, the plot hitting all the right notes. Definitely check this one out."
—Steve Berry, New York Times best-selling author of The Patriot Threat

"The novel boasts both male and female characters who are strong and realistic (that isn’t always the case in action-oriented thrillers). Fans of Donlay’s too-little-known Donovan Nash series will devour this one, and it may be the book that extends the author’s reach."
"Philip Donlay’s new thriller, Zero Separation, is a timely and terrifying roller-coaster ride depicting the realities of the post-9/11 world. Deftly plotted and expertly executed by a gifted writer who also happens to be a licensed pilot, Donlay’s story opens with a bang and doesn’t let go."
Sheldon Siegel, New York Times best-selling author of Final Verdict

"Deadly Echoes by Philip Donlay, the fourth novel to feature Donovan Nash, offers me a chance to use a word I can’t remember ever using in a review before. Yes, this is a. . . wait for it. . . a ripsnorting adventure…certainly exceeds the aver-age wow factor in terms of thriller plot…If you are sufficiently tuned in and are rooting for these people, this will certainly hold your attention as the pages flash by in full page-turner mode."

—Sacramento/San Francisco Book Review


Monday, September 15, 2014

Why the world needs Doug Lyle

In each of my books you'll find an acknowledgment to Dr. D.P. Lyle.  The last few books I've written I haven't needed his considerable expertise, but I always thank Doug just for being out there being Doug.  He's an essential part of the publishing and entertainment process--which is why we need Doug Lyle.

Over the years, Doug has saved my books from being inaccurate, cheesy, and just plain stupid, and in the process, helped me make them clever and unique, and I'm not the only one.  Doug is the go-to guy for nearly every writer who needs to find a clever way to kill a character, or to keep a character alive for one more critical minute. The LA Times gives us a rare inside look at a fascinating man you maybe haven't heard of, but I promise you've seen his expertise.  Yeah, he's everywhere, and when he writes his own murder mysteries, settle in, because you're not going to want to go anywhere until the last page.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


A sneak peak of the next Donovan Nash thriller.  March 3rd, 2015

The flames of Donovan Nash’s worst nightmare are fanned to life when Stephanie VanGelder, one of those closest to him, is kidnapped in the volcanic powder keg of a lawless Guatemala. With help from his inner circle that includes his estranged wife, Dr. Lauren McKenna, Donovan races headlong into the world of corruption and deception. Battling the kidnappers, as well as the deadly gas and lava from the impending eruption of a volcano, Donovan only has one chance to save Stephanie.

Amid earthquakes, volcanic ash, and lava from the eruption, the rescue goes horribly wrong, and Donovan is forced to find a way for everyone, including a mysterious woman who holds the secrets to his past, to escape one of the most powerful forces on earth. Aftershock is the story of Donovan Nash, a man battling his torturous past, while struggling to survive the volcano along with those who matter most to him. In the face of impending death, Donovan must garner the courage to endure a shocking revelation he’s sought for decades—a truth that will change him forever.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Ten Year Anniversary! How it all began...

Hello All,

September 2014 marks the ten year anniversary of Category Five's release.  As I look back, I remember the words of advice given to me by veteran author John Sandford, he simply said:  "hang on."  He was right, and thanks to my readers, it's been quite a ride, and I appreciate each and every one of you. 

At the time, I had no idea that Donovan Nash would still be around ten years later, let alone that Aftershock, Donovan Nash #5 would be coming out this spring, or that I would be working on the sixth Donovan Nash novel, and that somewhere on this desk, there's a slender file of notes for DN #7. 

A while back I was asked to write an article about severe weather, so I wrote about a hurricane, the one that I was in that prompted me to write Category Five.  It's how it all began, and it seems appropriate to share it with you.

I could feel it in the air, everyone could.  Something deep within the reptilian remnants of our once primitive brains responded to the dark skies and a rapidly dropping altimeter.  It was the fall of 1999, and I was undergoing my annual recurrent pilot training in Wilmington Delaware.  We all knew there was a hurricane coming, it had a name, Floyd.  I, along with everyone else expected it to drop some rain and dissipate quickly as it came ashore, especially this far north.

          Having grown up in Kansas, I’m no stranger to severe weather.  My childhood was filled with memories of being swept out of my bed by a parent and rushed into the basement as the storm sirens warbled their song of approaching tornadoes.  Black skies in Delaware, while disconcerting, certainly didn’t seem life threatening.  It was early, not yet six in the evening when I drove from the airport to the hotel.  All of the fast food restaurants were closed—everything was closed.  Then the winds came up and it began to rain.  In the Midwest, the rain and wind, while violent and torrential, would blow over within minutes.  Not Hurricane Floyd.  The rain started and then worsened.  The wind was relentless, it sounded as if both were on the verge of ripping my hotel into splinters.  For the first few hours I had electricity, and then the power went out.  A look out the window revealed sheets of water pouring from the roof, limbs were down and whitecaps blew through the flooded parking lot.  Earlier I’d gathered the few things I’d take with me if I had to flee a destroyed hotel room.  It was at that moment I knew I’d lost my fight or flight options—I was trapped.  Hour after hour of winds and rain kept coming, any momentary lull in the roar would always seem to be followed by gusts of higher intensity, the rain whipped into greater frenzy. 

         I needed to sleep, and I finally did, in a chair, fully clothed, as the structure around me creaked and groaned under the onslaught.  Whatever severe weather seasoning I thought I’d gained growing up in Kansas was tested that night in Delaware.  The next morning the flooding and destruction were bathed in bright sunlight.  I’d learn later that Floyd had taken lives.   

         Not long after that night, I started writing a book called Category Five.  The opening scene begins in Bermuda, where a hurricane is bearing down on the island.  A key scientist is racing to escape the island via private jet before the winds close the airport.  Having been to Bermuda, I’m familiar with the lay of the land. There is a single causeway that connects the main island to the airport, and I use this feature to enhance the drama.  I wrote about the waves crashing into the causeway, exploding upward, making a crossing perilous, if not suicidal.  On the ramp at the airport, out of reach, is the jet with engines running.  Time to escape the island can be measured in minutes.  My characters barely manage to cross the causeway without being swept away by the growing waves.  They board the jet and in sixty-mph wind gusts, the pilots takeoff and climb into the teeth of the storm.  Once airborne, they battle through massive turbulence and rain to get above the tempest.  Seven miles above the ocean, they burst into the calm rarefied air and turn for home.  In my novel, it’ll not be the last time they tangle with this particular storm. 


Years later, Category Five was written, agented, sold, and coming out in hardcover.  My job as a corporate pilot had me scheduled to fly to Bermuda, where, days earlier, Hurricane Fabian had hit the island.  Calls are made by both the flight department, as well as the top executives, and we discover that while there was damage to the island, the trip was still possible, so we went.  When we landed, it was obvious there was far more damage than I’d thought.  As we left the airport, there was a backup in the traffic because the causeway I’d spent so much time writing about was down to one lane.  When we finally inched out onto the structure, I could see the debris, and the sections of the concrete railings that had been washed away.  The very causeway scene I’d created in my head was suddenly very real.  As we slowly continued, our driver crossed himself, and then explained that as Fabian rolled over the island, four people were swept off the bridge and out to sea.  Once again, I was reminded of the power our planet can generate, and how helpless we as humans are in the face of such fury.


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Birthdays and Wisdom..sort of, maybe?

This upcoming week marks my birthday, it's not a milestone birthday, or even a particularly eventful birthday, except for the fact that I share the date with Orville Wright.  As a result, I'm born on what is now recognized as National Aviation Day, August 19th.  I'm pretty sure my aviation exploits didn't tip the scale much, and that Orville pretty much sealed the deal after Kitty Hawk, but hey, what better day?

As with all birthdays, I look back and congratulate myself for not dying, then I try and see if I did much with the year I was given.  This year I get to say yes.  My publisher released Deadly Echoes, my fourth Donovan Nash thriller. I finished Aftershock, DN #5, which will be released next March. (cover art to be revealed soon)  and best of all, I got to spend five weeks with my son in Montana.  We had a great summer, and as he's about to graduate from College, it was probably the last time for that much unbroken father son time together for the foreseeable future.

Another thought that arises on birthdays--is the question of wisdom.  Am I getting smarter?  Is my wisdom increasing with age?  Once again, I get to answer yes to this question, as I now know where it's kept.  I even took a picture as proof I was there.  There weren't a lot of people around, certainly no teenagers, or politicians, lobbyists, no Wall Street types, and certainly no fast food outlets.  My cell phone didn't have a signal, and I got the sense that Fox News and CNN weren't being watched, perhaps Wisdom meant no television at all?  I did see an American flag, and a school, which was expected.  I left town feeling like I'd gained a little bit of wisdom, at least I'd found the source.  Time will tell.  The best part is I can always go back.

What would I like for my birthday you ask?  I'd love for everyone who has ever read one of my novels to post a review on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Goodreads. Or all of them! It's quick and easy, and trust me, it always puts a smile on my face.  Thanks! 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Yeah, I'm that old....


Hello all,
Those of you who follow my blog know that I'm in a remote part of Montana, working on my latest novel, a ritual that I've grown to love.  Montana is an amazing, wild place, and as far as I know my nearest neighbor is nestled far out of sight, and neighbors should be.  The solitude is wonderful as I coax this book into existence. 
The other day I needed to go to the nearest post office to pick up a package...this is what I found.  The coolest post office, ever!  I parked close, no lines, free tootsie rolls, and an old manual scale.  Reminded me of how things were a long time ago.
On that subject, I made a recent observation that caused me to pause and take a moment to reflect.  When I first thought I might like to write a book, I didn't have a computer.  I had a typewriter, and a pile of reference materials I'd checked out from the library, which I found by using the card catalogue.
The moment that brought me up short happened earlier today.  I was working on a detailed scene for the new book, and while I sat in front of my 27" computer monitor, I referenced high-resolution images I'd downloaded to my tablet, while asking my smart phone questions.  Progress?  Probably, but I can't ever remember my typewriter spelling enema while I wasn't looking.


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sleep, Write, Prey...

Hello all,

I must apologize for the lapse in my blogging, but it's not because I haven't been writing, quite the contrary, I've been writing my little brains out.  As is my ritual, I'm currently holed up in a cabin in Southwest Montana writing my next thriller. 

Usually I intersperse working with a little trout fishing, but this year due to my knee, I'm still not to the point of hiking through the forest.  All I can ever think about as I limp through my occasional walks, is the fact that predators are known to prey on the weak or injured, and there ARE predators in these parts, and I'm pretty sure I'm on the menu.

I am looking forward to two upcoming appearances: 

July 19th, Missoula Montana bookstore, Fact & Fiction.   If you're in the area please stop and say 

August 9th, Ennis Montana.  This is an all day affair, and sounds like a great time.

I'll leave you with a picture or two, and one funny poster.  This really is an inspiring place, and I still have my sense of humor.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Update, Amazon, and a few words about Aftershock...coming 2015!

Dear Readers:
It's been three hectic months since the launch of my latest Donovan Nash thriller, Deadly Echoes. I had a wonderful time on tour, met old friends, and hopefully made some new friends as well. My thanks to everyone who came out to meet me, and most of all, thanks to those of you who bought the book. I'm grateful for my readers, and I love all the emails and answer each one personally. If you have something you'd like to ask, please don't hesitate:
After book tour, on my first day in Montana for a little rest and relaxation, I managed to take a misstep that eventually required surgery on my left knee. Ouch would be an understatement. I've been a little distracted by that little endeavor, but it's finally time to get caught up and share some news.
Zero Separation
Amazon has made their Kindle edition of Zero Separation a June special of the month. It's only $2.99. Please spread the word, if anyone you know might want to read a thriller about a stolen jet, a missing airliner, and a last ditch effort to save millions of lives, send them my way. As always, warn them about reading it on a plane.
Category Five is where the series began, it's near and dear to my heart, and just in time for hurricane season Amazon is putting it on sale as one of their Big Deals. From 6/13 until 6/28, Category Five on Kindle will be priced at $1.99.
Category Five
Another project that is in the works is Deadly Echoes is being translated from English to French. More details as they become available, though I'm pretty excited about this deal.
That's it for now, never far from my crutches, book #6 is taking place among the piles of notes, maps, and research material spread everywhere on my desk. At seeing the chaos in my office, a friend once asked me if I was taking over the world. I responded by explaining that world domination required less paperwork than writing a novel.
Thanks again,
Philip Donlay

And finally, a sneak peak into next Spring's yet to be published Donovan Nash thriller, Aftershock, scheduled for release March 3, 2015:
The flames of Donovan Nash's worse nightmare are fanned to life when one of those closest to him is kidnapped in the volcanic powder keg of a lawless Guatemala. With help from his inner circle, plus his estranged wife, Dr. Lauren McKenna, Donovan races headlong into the nightmarish realm of third world corruption and deception. Aftershock is the story of Donovan Nash, the loyalty of those closest to him, and the courage he must find to protect those who matter most. In the face of an erupting volcano and a winner take all rescue, Donovan must also confront a revelation he's sought for decades—a truth that will alter he and Lauren forever.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

You might feel a little pinch...

I recently had surgery, and as a somewhat interested observer in the activity going on around me, I was reminded of the vague terms that the medical professional uses to give the patient a brief heads-up that something unpleasant is about to happen. As someone who uses words to invoke different perceptions, I like to examine the actual meaning of a given word, though it's difficult to concentrate through all of the trepidation of actually being the patient.  Below are some of the insights I've developed over the years, and may perhaps shed some light on what's about to happen to you, if you find yourself on the wrong end of a medical procedure. 

"A little sting."  A brief but painful meeting of flesh and steel usually a small needle.

"A little stick."  This means a bigger needle is about to pierce your skin and last longer than a sting.

"A little prick."  This one worried me for an instant, but it's a painful medium-large needle.

"A little pressure."  This could be anything that hurts like hell, it's usually large.

"I need you to remain still."  This means your initial impulse is going to tell you to run like hell.

"Take a few deep breaths."  Hang on, this will probably make you feel like screaming.

"Take my hand."  When spoken by a nurse, it means someone is behind you--and it's gonna hurt.

"Take a few breaths and relax."  Don't believe for a moment it's over, it's only intermission.

"That wasn't so bad, was it?"  This means you survived...for now.

The part that I respect most is the fact that I know they're lying, they know they're lying, and they know I know they're lying.  Yet the dance continues.


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Helicopters, novels, and the real world.

If you read my books, then you know my main character, Donovan Nash, who is a high-time jet pilot, doesn't think much of helicopters.  Don't get me wrong, he'll get in them when he has to, and often times it's necessary for him to strap in and go, but he's never thrilled with the process, maybe even a bit uneasy.  Arriving at this particular character trait for Nash was simple--it's exactly how this high-time jet pilot/author feels about the subject.

So, I can't really explain what happened.  With a simple swipe of my credit card, my son and I were ushered out to a Bell 206, and within minutes, the rotor blades were spinning and everything I know and trust about aviation was swept away in the rotor wash.

I last flew in a helicopter in 1982, and not much has changed.  The damned things takeoff straight up!  A serious violation of aerodynamics to a fixed-wing pilot.  From that point on, all of the senses I accumulated in 30 years of flying airplanes become null and void.  The sounds are different, the feel in the seat of the pants is different.  The whole machine vibrates and shakes.  I remember clearly why Donovan is always a reluctant passenger. What was I thinking...and then we climbed above the trees and banked toward the snow capped mountains of Glacier National Park.  

We climbed to 9,000 feet and danced with the mountaintops, pivoted over glaciers, raced through valleys hugging rocky spires that soared above us into the perfect blue sky.  Waterfalls, lakes, even an eagle passed beneath us as we flew through the park.  Long before I wanted it to end, we lightly touched down on the helipad, spent, happy, humbled by the aerial sights I'd been privileged enough to witness.  What an amazing flight.

Donovan Nash may still have his reservations, but I'm well on my way to changing mine.

Oh, and one more thing.  In real life, as in my novels, helicopter pilots have mad skills.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Muses, music, and magic

                                                       Kristin Hoffman from

Whenever writers get together, the conversation inevitably rolls around to the subject of craft.  How do you write, when, how much each day, do you outline?  The answers are as varied as the writers   These exchanges are one my favorite parts about being a novelist--they're very cathartic.  I know for a fact that  I'm not the only one with some crazy ritual. (perhaps one day this will be the topic of another blog)

For me, the process has changed somewhat over the years, but still, one of the hardest aspects to control is how to get from left-brained analytical pilot, over the threshold, to the right-brained creative novelist.  It's always a challenge, but I've refined the process and the single most import element is music.  Music is my muse.

After a recent exchange of thoughts with one of my muses, I began to ponder this mechanism, and how important it is to me, and then I thought about the requirements to be my muse.  It's completely subjective, and all mine, but this is what I discovered.

*  The song must have remarkable lyrics.  It's hard for crummy lyrics to inspire an author.

*  The song must contain some haunting refrain, or the artist herself must possess a voice with this    
    quality.  Yes, a muse must be female...I don't make the rules.  Look it up.

*  The song must feel as if it's being sung fearlessly.  This solitary element somehow seems to
     push me into a mindset to write fearlessly.

*   The song must perform the magic while I write, which means it must be subtle, not
     demanding, yet still powerful enough to feed the creativity and stay in the background.  How
     musicians create this is beyond me.  It's magic.

*   I owe all of my muses a deep debt of gratitude.  You're one of the reasons the words appear, the
     private soundtrack to my novels.  I could never in a million years do what you do, but I'm glad
     you have the skills you have.

These days, I listen to music on my computer, and it shows me who I listen to the most.  Calculating the age of the computer, the following five artists have been listened to the most while I muddled through writing my last three novels.  Most go back further than that.  Thanks ladies.  (Loreena McKennitt)

I would recommend that everyone check out this music--today.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Hopping on one foot, swearing, and a grand slam. least favorite thing.  I waited in the doctor's office, then I waited as the doctor went through my x-rays and MRI images.  I waited as he explained that due to some blood thinners I take, we need to wait two weeks before doing any surgery.  Crap.

So, I'm in the cabin, crutches are hard work, and a deterrent to moving around, so I hop and swear.  I can drive, so I've taken a few scenic trips and then I decided I should teach myself to drive a stick  using only my right foot.  It's difficult, requires a little concentration, but it's not impossible..or very smooth for that matter.

My son finishes finals this week and is headed my way to help me through the eventual surgery, which is good.  He'll also be in a postion to help me while I work on that new novel I'm suppossed to be writing.

There was a question I threw out there on my last blog.  Without the distraction of fishing, would I write more, or start happy hour earlier?  The early reports are in--book six has a working title, and I've begun, and as usual, with a bang.

I was sifting through some camera uploads and I found one of my favorites from the book signing in Anacortes.  Jeff brought in the first three of my books and bought Deadly Echoes!  In my world it's a  literary grand slam!  Thanks Jeff, I'll see you next year.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

The one hour vacation

My plan was perfect.  The moment my last book signing for the Deadly Echoes release tour was over, I was headed to Montana.  I'd rented a rustic cabin on the bank of Rock Creek, with Internet and satellite TV of course, and the rule of the day was write in the morning, fly fish in the afternoon, with all activities drawing to a close around happy hour.  Repeat as necessary.  Following this recipe, at some point later in the summer I'd end up with a rough draft for novel number six and have caught a bunch of fish.

What happened instead was my first morning in Montana, I was leaving the hotel to drive to the cabin.  While loading the car I stepped off a curb I didn't see.  It took a while for the injury to really hurt, so I did actually get all my fishing stuff unpacked before I was forced to seek medical attention.  The end result is a swollen knee with fragments floating around inside, and some guys with knives who are hopefully going to fix everything.  Maybe as early as next week.  I can see the river from the window.  Of course, it's impossible to fish with crutches, and I've been told I'll be on them for four to six weeks after the surgery.  Thinking back, I sure was excited that entire hour before I stepped off into space. 

With fishing out of the equation, the question looms.  Will I write more, or simply start happy hour earlier?  Stay tuned.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Book Tour 2014---and a look back

It's day 33 of book tour, and as suspected, I'm a little tired and in pain from moving about, but very happy with what I've found out in the world.  People are buying books, more specifically, they're buying my books.  Which of course takes the edge off any of the unpleasantness of being on the road.  I've met so many wonderful people at signings, as well as reconnected with old friends.  It's all worth the effort.

I'm currently in Friday Harbor which is a special place in it's own right, but even more special for me due to the fact that I lived here for a while and worked on Deadly Echoes.  It's no accident that parts of the action within Deadly Echoes take place here in the San Juan Islands.  Not much else to report, but I will share a few pictures of this journey and urge everyone who has read the book to post a review on Amazon.  Spread the word and Thanks.
                                          A rooftop bar in Laguna Beach where the ideas for
                                          Deadly Echoes formed and an adult beverage or two
                                          may have been consumed.

                                         A wonderful old house in the San Juan Islands where I
                                         wrote the bulk of Deadly Echoes.

                                          This is what happens to old, edited, obsolete
                                          manuscripts when there's no shredder around.

                                          A beach I often go to and a certain two span bridge

                                          One of my favorite days in the process. Books straight
                                          out of the box. 

                                         All four of my books at my favorite bookstore.  Once
                                         Upon a Crime in Minneapolis, MN.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Deadly Echoes debut and Internation Thriller Writers Interview

4-1-2014  Once Upon a Crime Bookstore in Minneapolis MN.  For each of my four books, this place has hosted the opening day signing.   They also had all of my hardcover books in stock, so we snapped a quick picture. Thanks Pat and Gary--you guys are the best!

Below is a link to an interview I gave the ITW--

Monday, March 31, 2014

Official beginning of the Deadly Echoes book tour!

The book is released tomorrow, today I did an appearance on KARE11 television here in Minneapolis.

Let the games begin.  The appearance schedule is up on the website, and I hope to see as many of you as I possibly can.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

A little piece of my past.

Pratt Kansas, is a small community about a hundred miles west of where I was raised in Wichita Kansas.  My Grandparents are both gone, but the memories remain.  Thanks Pratt!

By Carol Bronson: Pratt Tribune 
Posted Mar. 29, 2014 @ 12:01 am

Pratt, Kan.
A Kansas author claims ties to Pratt. He didn’t grow up here, but his mother did, and he visited his grandparents frequently. The time he spent in Pratt was important.
“Your community molded me in some small way and I appreciate it,” said Philip Donlay, whose fourth book, “Deadly Echoes,” will be released in April.
He claims two distinct events that shaped his life. At the age of 17, he earned a pilot’s license and at 18, he was published in a national aviation magazine.
His love of flying was fostered in Pratt County. His grandfather, Dwight Hardy, was a farmer, educator, acting president of Pratt Junior College in 1969, and a pilot.
“He’d take me flying,” Donlay said. “The first time scared me to death, but I was hooked for life.”
Growing up in Wichita, he considered Pratt to be “kind of a second home.” The swimming pool, fish hatchery, sledding down Cherry Street and spending time at the farm near Wellsford are favorite memories.
Between his junior and senior years in high school, he worked on the farm to earn enough money to take flying lessons.
At the same time, he took a journalism class in high school, liked it and discovered he had some talent for writing. A creative writing teacher encouraged him to pursue writing as a career. He graduated from college as a journalism major, but when it came time to decide between writing and flying for a living, flying won.
Donlay was a flight instructor before becoming copilot of a private jet based in Jeddah, flying for a Saudi prince. After several months, he returned to the United States and flew a corporate jet for a Fortune 500 company for the next 28 years, traveling to 40 countries on five continents.
He always kept writing in the back of his mind, and vowed someday he would write a novel.
“It’s harder than it looks,” Donlay said about writing. “Getting published is harder, but I’m pretty stubborn and I kept at it.”
His protagonist is Donovan Nash, the founder of Eco-Watch, a fictional scientific research organization. In “Deadly Echoes,” Nash is being blamed for a series of violent eco-atrocities that ignite protests around the world.
Advance praise from the industry includes words like heart-thumping, well researched, supremely entertaining, and commanding thriller.
“A Donlay thriller is as sleek and fast as a Gulfstream. Buckle up,” wrote Brian Freeman, author of “Spilled Blood.”
Donlay’s fifth book in the series is due out in March 2015, and after he finishes a book tour this spring, and if his agent has his way, he’ll start writing book number six.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

I'm dismayed by the media coverage of the missing Malaysia Boeing 777.   I've tried to stay out of the conversation, but I finally came across an article that mirrors what I've thought all along.  It's well written, carefully thought out, and the man knows what he's talking about.  The best part is you can read it--quietly.

FYI:  The latest theory that was sent to me is that there were possibly two airplanes.  You can read about how complicated that maneuver is in my novel, Zero Separation.  It comes out in paperback April 1, 2014. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Fresh Fiction Review

"A riveting adventure to catch a murderer before he creates another deadly disaster."

Deadly Echoes
Philip Donlay

Reviewed by Viki Ferrell
Posted March 13, 2014

Donovan Nash, the head of scientific research company Eco- Watch, receives a threatening phone call saying that everything important to him is going to be destroyed. He can't identify the raspy voice on the other end, but the YouTube video he's told to watch identifies the first step in finding the man behind this mysterious voice. Donovan's first phone call is to his estranged wife, now living in Paris with their three-year-old daughter. He learns they are alright for now, but time will change that situation.
As Donovan arrives in Hawaii at the initial crime scene, he finds the first of several pictures left for him by the man behind the raspy voice. After the second murder of an associate in California, and the second picture, Donovan knows who's behind trying to destroy Eco-Watch. But can he get to this murderer before he destroys everything and everyone important to Donovan? Will deadly echoes from Donovan's past destroy his future?
Philip Donlay gives us another fast-paced, action- packed thriller in DEADLY ECHOES. This is my second visit with Donovan Nash and company, and it is more riveting than the first. Nautical and aviation buffs will love all the technical jargon, as well as the daredevil maneuvering of boats, planes and helicopters. From Hawaii to Los Angeles and up the Pacific coast to Alaska, this story zips along at breakneck speed. Not only are the local police involved, but the FBI, CIA, Coast Guard, Navy and even MOSSAD want in on the action. Donovan finds himself a hostage of his own past, and his house of cards is coming down around him. DEADLY ECHOES is a dynamic thriller in every sense of the word.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

As a former international jet captain, every time an airliner makes the front page I sigh heavily for the people on board, their families, and for the resulting media hysteria.

I had a reader write me today and ask me about the vanishing Malaysian 777.  My reader suspects the latest news, that the airliner changed course, makes this a conspiracy...that it might be on the ground somewhere.  Which would actually be an interesting plot for a novel, but from what I've read, I doubt that's what's happened:

Here are a few things I do know: 

A 777 in the ocean is very hard to find.  A 777 on the ground is extremely hard to miss.  Having made many oceanic crossings, I'd like to calmly impart some facts about procedures aboard a  transport category jet.

As to the reported course change: There are three reasons to change course and altitude without first getting clearance to do so from Air Traffic Control.

1. Severe weather

2. Catastrophic airplane problems

3. The guy with the gun/bomb tells you to do it.

The likeliest scenario is a mechanical one--the percentage of crashes caused by terrorists, crazed pilots, or conspiracies are low.  

If I were tasked with finding this aircraft, I would do exactly what the authorities are doing.  Searching the ocean for debris, and listening for the pinging from the "black boxes."  The 777 is out there somewhere and will be found. 

The truth is, this airplane was in massive trouble from something gone horribly wrong.  It lost communication, possibly tried to turn around, and then started a descent.  What I am positive of, is that the crew did everything possible to get every soul home safe--and couldn't.  My best advice to everyone is to turn off the televised hysteria and wait to read about the facts--when there are facts.  Oh, and maybe say a prayer for the missing, as well as those who are out looking for them.  

Saturday, March 8, 2014

As a writer, I'm always on the lookout for coincidences, disassociated tidbits that shouldn't correlate, yet somehow do.  It's habit.  At this moment, my life is complete chaos.  Book release for Deadly Echoes is in three weeks.  I'm neck-deep in boxes of books, the next six weeks involve living in hotels, travel, and being at certain places at specific times.  Something I rarely do the other months of the year.  In two weeks, I'm attending Left Coast Crime, a writers conference in Monterey California.
My life is compete chaos--self inflicted for sure--but when I sit in my office (which looks much like the one pictured below) I entertain wild thoughts like running away.  So when I ran across these two images--I couldn't help but make the correlation:

 Enough said--it's the weekend.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Another cool gadget:

Not long ago I wrote a blog about the "black boxes" found aboard almost every jet airplane flying today.  Another technology that isn't as common, but very cool, is the EVS, or Enhanced Vision System.  Using infrared technology, similar to night vision goggles, the system allows pilots to see objects such as terrain and buildings in night and poor weather.  The image below is Aspen Colorado, a challenging airport in broad daylight.  The EVS image is on the left.  The image on the right is what the naked eye sees.

Now, imagine flying a Gulfstream jet at 300 knots, below the mountaintops, just above the valley floor--at night.  That's just a tiny hint of what happens in the skies in my third thriller, Zero Separation, which will be released in paperback on April 1st, 2014.   Oh, and one last thought: I dare you to read it on a plane.


Friday, February 28, 2014

Good news reached me this week.  My friend Grant Blackwood has a new website, as well as  some news that should excite readers.  A gifted writer, anything he publishes is sure to be top-notch. 

 If you've read Grant's work then you understand--if you haven't, it's about time.  Check him out.





The New York Times bestselling author of the Briggs Tanner series, (The End of Enemies, The Wall of Night, and An Echo of War) Grant Blackwood is also the co-author of the Fargo Adventure Series (Spartan Gold, Lost Empire, and The Kingdom) with Clive Cussler, as well as the co-author of the #1 NYT bestseller, Dead or Alive, with Tom Clancy, and the upcoming thriller, The Kill Switch, with James Rollins.

A U. S. Navy veteran, Grant spent three years aboard a guided missile frigate as an Operations Specialist and a Pilot Rescue Swimmer.

Grant lives in Colorado, where he is working his own standalone series starring a new hero.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Years ago, in my life as professional pilot, we were always plugged in and listening to Air Traffic Control.  Most of it was the usual chatter between pilots and controllers, requests, clearances being issued, boring but essential stuff.  But every now and then there would be a real jewel.

The following was an actual exchange between a frustrated TWA Captain and a calm cool female controller.  She had her hands full with a sky saturated with planes and thunderstorms--and this guy.  The TWA crew wasn't happy with their sequence, or some such detail, and it was more than obvious when the annoyed Captain finally came on the frequency.

"Center, this is TWA," the Captain blustered.  "Are you a trainee?"

"No, why?" She responded sweetly.  "Are you?"

I  promise there was laughter in every cockpit except one.  The controller had dismantled the bully with four words.  It was a work of art.  Words can change everything.

On that topic, an old friend of mine, Mark Whyte, along with his wife Katie, have written a children's book--a really good children's book about young people with disabilities.  If you, or anyone you know has a family touched by disability, please check out this book.  Mark and Katie's words are powerful.

Friday, February 21, 2014

It's not real until it's on the internet.  Or in this case, posted online within Publishers Marketplace:

Philip Donlay's AFTERSHOCK, tormented by his past, in the fifth Donovan Nash thriller, he flies headlong into a lawless, volcano-ravaged Guatemala, in search of answers that may very well destroy him, to Bob Gussin and Pat Gussin at Oceanview, for publication in 2015, by Kimberley Cameron at Kimberley Cameron & Associates (World).

Thank you Oceanview, you're all great!  Now...I wonder what happens to Donovan in book six?